The “NHL Goaltender’s Style Guide“ is a comprehensive ebook that breaks down all NHL goaltenders, and their styles and tendencies. The man behind independent goaltending scouting service “The Goalie Guild“, Justin Goldman is responsible for bringing a higher level of knowledge on the subject of the goaltending position and for that, we thank him. He was gracious enough to provide us with access to his scouting reports and style guide on Toronto Maple Leafs goaltenders, James Reimer aka: “Optimus Reim” and Jonas Gustavsson aka: “The Monster”â€”borrowed from the aforementioned book.
“Even though James Reimer has vastly increased his role with Toronto since last season ended, I donâ€™t expect him to reach or match the stats he posted in the second half.
Last season, which for him kicked off on January 1, Reimer played in 37 games and went 20â€“10â€“5 with a 2.60 GAA, a very solid .921 SP and three shutouts. He almost single-handedly put the Maple Leafs in the playoffs.
This season, because of the pressure he faces as a starting goalie and the issues that every sophomore goalie faces, I expect Reimer to only win 25â€“27 games and post closer to a .908 SP%. He will have his ups and downs and probably only post three or four shutouts in 55 games.
Style and skill analysis
I describe Reimer as a confident goalie that is well-suited to play Francoise Allaireâ€™s positionally-based style that relies on â€œblockingâ€ saves more than reflexes.
While watching Reimers play last season, I realized right away that heâ€™s very thick-skinned and mentally tough, which went a long way in enhancing his average skills and lack of mobility. Reimer relies on positioning to make himself as big as possible and he focuses on moving less in order to set himself and square up to shooters quietly.
Although Reimer was able to scramble well and come up with a number of timely saves late in the regular season, there were number of visible flaws and weaknesses in his style and technique.
Reimerâ€™s biggest weakness last season was his rebound control. Instead of absorbing shots, Reimer would default into the blocking mode and create badly placed rebounds that led the second and third opportunities against him.
The other visible area of weakness in Reimers game was his glove hand positioning. Again, he would rely on a blocking technique to simply get his hand behind the puck, but struggled to make a conscientious reaction to catch the puck. So either he was beat clean over the glove, or shots with his glove hand in and cause a bad rebound.
Overall, Reimers work ethic and strong bounce back ability is impressive and allows him to be successful, but he has a lot of refining to do in terms of his style.
2011-12 season outlook
The biggest obstacle for Reimer as he heads into his spooky sophomore season will be extending his impressive performances over the course of an entire season.
Not only are their expectations to manage and live up to, but those expectations come from all over. He expects to play at the same level, as did his coaches, teammates and fans. Those expectations will continue to climb higher and higher as time goes on, which is just part of the territory that comes along with wearing a Maple Leafs uniform.
At the same time the opposition knows he is a major part of Torontoâ€™s team, so they have done their homework and created their own scouting reports on him. They know to shoot glove side high on him and to jam pucks at his skates in order to cause bad rebounds.
So with all the different hurdles Reimer will have to face the season, that still doesnâ€™t take into consideration his workload. Itâ€™s one thing to come up from the AHL and play with energy and focus in the biggest games of your life, but itâ€™s quite another to do it every single night with the same sense of urgency.
With that in mind, I have to wonder if Reimer can handle a 55 or 60 game workload if things arenâ€™t always going his way. How will his confidence hold up if heâ€™s unable to rely on a strong bounce back ability? Lastly, he is dug himself into a deep hole due to struggles in the preseason, or will he have the mental toughness to turn around in game #1?
After finishing his rookie campaign (2009-2010) in a strong and impressive manner, Jonas struggled mightily in his sophomore season. Now that he is seeing some highs and lows in the NHL over the past few years he has the potential to reclaim the starting role and strong improve heâ€™s available fantasy goalie to own.
Last season, Gustavsson and went just sixâ€“13â€“two with a .890 SP% and a 3.28 GAA. With some hard issues at the start of the preseason, he was never able to get into a comfortable rhythm. This season, I expect him to play inconsistently, the least earn 15 wins in 30 games and post close to a .907 SP% and around a 2.75 GAA.
Style and skills analysis
I describe Gustavsson is a lanky, long reach Swedish butterfly goaltender that continues to implement more blocking saves into his unique style. As another eager Allaire pupil, Jonas likes to rely on his size by playing deep in the crease and by limiting his mobility and movements.
When Jonas is playing well, heâ€™s more aggressive and challenges shooters with strong positioning and a squared upper body. He also has an intimidating presence and flares his legs out wide in order to make himself bigger.
Because of his quickness and reflexes, Jonas is capable of making the flashy, desperation saves that make the highlight reels. He also has very quick hands and feet, but does not utilize them on a very consistent basis.
When Jonas is struggling, heâ€™s kicking out big rebounds to dangerous areas, scrambling out of control and losing sight of the puck. He also struggles to find puck through traffic, especially when shorthanded. When he is timing his off, heâ€™s losing his angles due to uncontrolled slides.
Jonas has a pretty unique stance in terms of posture. His right leg is bent with a wider angle and locks it underneath his left knee and leg, which is more upright.
In traditional Allaire fashion, Jonas tilts his upper body forward in order to track shots that hit him in the chest back down to the ice. If heâ€™s forced to give up a rebound he will try to place it in front of him instead of off to the sides so that he doesnâ€™t have to push off laterally or dive laterally.
2011 2012 season outlook
The best way I can describe Gustavssonâ€™s play last season is with the phrase â€œvisible frustrationâ€.
Rife with untimely goals, bad rebounds and way too many angry outbursts, it was certainly not the â€œcarpe diemâ€ season many and hope to see from â€œThe Monsterâ€. His unsettling frustration simply boiled over and resulted in a two-week AHL conditioning stint.
He handled the demotion well, going 3-1-1 and with a 1.44 GAA and a .955 SP%, which showed me that his issues were not so much technical as they were emotional and mental.
Now as he prepares to avenge his sophomore slump, Gustavssonâ€™s focuse must be on instilling confidence in his teammates by radiating steadiness and reliability. In order to accomplish this, however, he must follow a few steps:
- First of all, Jonas must have better rebound control. The more he can steer, soak up and squeeze off original shots, the more control he will have with his movements and his overall puck management.
- Secondly, you must must not allow negative results to cause negative reactions. If he gives up a goal, he has to control and temper his emotions and let it roll off the shoulders. Negative feedback is a sign of immaturity and poise, so he must work harder to be evenkeeled and composed.
- Finally, Jonas must embrace his roots and rely a little more on his reaction. Playing just one style all the time is faulty; he needs to know when to block and went to react.”